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Page last updated at 14:12 GMT, Thursday, 30 September 2010 15:12 UK

County schedule for 2011 delayed after disagreement

Warwickshire competing in the CB40 final (18 September)
Players must wait before finding out their schedule next summer

The England and Wales Cricket Board has delayed an announcement on the domestic structure for 2011 until 17 November following disagreement at county level.

BBC Sport revealed last Friday that a consensus had emerged in favour of playing fewer Twenty20 matches.

But seven counties had voted against the proposals, and the ECB's management board has not rubber-stamped the plan.

The ECB said its management board "has agreed to set up a small working party to finalise the domestic schedule".

The working party will be chaired by ECB chief executive David Collier and will include representatives from the Professional Cricketers' Association, an un-named player, Sussex chief executive Dave Brooks, Somerset chairman Andy Nash and Glamorgan chief executive Alan Hamer.

The County Championship is almost certain to stay as 16 four-day contests in two divisions while the 40-over-a-side competition is expected to face minor alterations.

But the sticking-point appears to be the Twenty20 competition after a summer where players faced a saturated fixture list which many found hard to swallow.

While players, their representatives, and many county chairmen are firmly supportive of cutting back from 16 group games to 10, some counties are totally opposed.

Counties such as Sussex, Somerset and Essex, which do not host international cricket, see floodlit home Twenty20 matches as their financial lifeblood.

Sussex chief executive Brooks told BBC Sussex: "We believe that the counties should have the opportunity to create additional revenue. We all know that Twenty20 is the only part of the sport that is growing in its attendances.

"The attendances last year were 30% up year-on-year despite clashing with the football World Cup and despite the recession. We've seen other sports going backwards.

"If the working party is given the appropriate information and the appropriate power to make a firm recommendation then the working party can do that.

606: DEBATE
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"Clearly it's frustrating for all the counties that we've got a further month of delay when we'll all need to be marketing and pushing our games for next season.

"I think it is important for the game that we come to a decision quickly, but it's trying to make sure we can come up with a solution which is sustainable for cricket in the long term.

"It's time to sit down and agree a suitable structure that is able to remain broadly untouched for several years to come and that all the counties can gain sustainable benefits from."

According to a report in the Observer last weekend, Essex pulled in more than £500,000 in gate money from Twenty20 matches this summer.

Essex chief executive David East told BBC Essex: "It is immensely important for us that we maintain that level of cricket because of the revenue it generates.

"From an Essex point of view, and this is mirrored with several other counties as well, we had incremental growth in terms of income and attendance.

"These are crucial revenue generating matches for us and other counties. The overall structure of our sport will suffer [if Twenty20 matches are lost], as will all the other interactions with the community and our production of the next generation of England cricketers."

And Somerset's chief executive Richard Gould said the Taunton-based club "would lose about £80,000 for every home game removed from the schedule".

He added: "In time we may not be able to compete with the Test match grounds if there is a reduction. Our playing staff would have to be cut and we might end up on a vicious downward spiral."

Various counties have faced financial difficulties this summer.

Surrey are set to make 20 of their off-field staff redundant in an attempt to plug a budget deficit, while Kent have had to deny rumours that they are in danger of going into administration.



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see also
Surrey plan to make redundancies
24 Sep 10 |  Surrey
Kent dismiss administration talk
17 Sep 10 |  Kent
Counties could cut Twenty20 games
24 Sep 10 |  Counties
County pros in schedule backlash
20 May 10 |  Counties
Players 'do not enjoy' Twenty20
15 Jul 10 |  Glamorgan
Guide to county cricket
06 Apr 11 |  Cricket
Miller worried by 50-over demise
28 Aug 09 |  Counties


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